Concert Review: PROTEST THE HERO – 10 Years in the Fortress
April 24, 2018, Marquee Ballroom, Halifax, Nova Scotia
Tuesday, April 24, was not only the hottest day of 2018 thus far for the small east coast city of Halifax, Nova Scotia, it was the hottest night as well. The credit for that goes to Whitby, Ontario’s Protest the Hero who stopped by the port city as part of their current tour celebrating the 10th Anniversary for their 2008 release, Fortress. The sold out show, which took place at The Marquee Showroom and was hosted by Sonic Concerts, was well organized and executed, and appeared to go without a hitch.
I find that at some concerts the supporting bands are either very different than the headlining act, or too similar and almost a copy of the band they are supporting. This time they were perfectly chosen as both supporting acts were different enough from Protest the Hero, but between the two of them they embodied the full dynamic found in Protest The Hero‘s music. Destrage and Good Tiger more than warmed up the packed house with their own brand of metal and left enough fuel for the fire to explode when Protest The Hero finally hit the stage.
Destrage were up first and wasted no time in jacking up the energy in the crowd. Hailing from Milan, Italy, their set was high paced, full of tight rhythms and knee-buckling breakdowns that really got the crowd going. With frequent tempo changes that were flawlessly executed, and an energy level not unfamiliar to fast punk and/or intense thrash metal, Destrage was well received by the listeners who even participated in some group jumping (seemingly not too common among Halifax crowds). Aside from the overall performance, two things really stood out to me about this Italian group: the first is that their bass player (from where I stood) really looked like Mark Morton from Lamb of God. Secondly, Destrage‘s dummer, Federico Paulovich, was the highlight of the entire set for me. His precision and groove were top notch and also a vital aspect of the band’s overall sound being as tight as it was. In regards to an earlier comment, Destrage seemed to embody the harder and more technical side of Prptest The Hero‘s music.
Up next was Good Tiger, and right off the hop I noticed that one guitarist played right handed, and the other left-handed. With each on the extreme opposite sides of the stage, it presented such an immediate presence of symmetry in their stage setup that really satisfied any level of OCD I may have. Before they commenced their set, the crowd was informed that their drummer was unable to be with them, and Destrage‘s drummer, Frederico, would be filling in. As it turned out, this was his fourth show covering with the band and he did not miss a beat; even gracing us with an amazing, but short, drum solo before the set closed. Contrasting to Destrage, Good Tiger play a more melodic style of metal with vocals reminiscent to those found in The Mars Volta. Elliot Coleman spent most of the time in the high range with a lot of falsetto use. It went quite well with the melodic, chord driven music, which, in my opinion, embodied the sometimes softer and more melodic side of Protest The Hero.
After a short break, our headliners took the stage and wasted no time with their presentation of the Fortress album. Kicking it off with my favourite track from the album, “Bloodmeat”, Protest The Hero showed the packed audience that they were ready for business! With only a few talking breaks, Protest The Hero ripped through the track list with indelible precision and intensity. The energy expended by the band despite the immense heat inside the venue warrants nothing but the utmost admiration and respect. Add together the sold out crowd to Protest The Hero‘s intense light show and you’ve got an atmosphere so warm that you would be soaked in sweat even if just standing idle; and NO ONE was just standing idle. Pretty much the entire audience was singing along, doing their own form of dancing, moshing and even crowd surfing. Personally, I’m proud of how much love Halifax showed Protest The Hero, and you could tell the band was digging every minute of it.
Another noteworthy moment of the show, for me at least, was, with two songs left of the Fortress setlist, singer Rody Walker announced that the band would be taking a short break. He said they needed to take a few moments, go downstairs where it was likely much cooler, but would be back to give us some more. “You don’t need to chant, ‘ONE MORE SONG’ or anything like that, we’re coming back anyway.” I was very pleased with this announcement, not only for the fact that we would get more music from them, but because I feel like the whole, “Encore” ritual is so overdone and cliched. Maybe it was cool in the past, and for some folks still is, but you pretty much know that they’re going to come back, at least once. If not, fans will remember that.
Interestingly enough, right after the band left the stage for their short break, a lot of the crowd started to disburse. Perhaps some were taking a washroom break, grabbing a drink or going outside for a smoke of their favourite smoke-ables. Protest The Hero were gone for maybe 2 or 3 minute before they ran back onto the stage to rip some more tunes, including a new one for us all to feast on.
Overall, this show was the best one I’ve seen so far this year and I’ll be talking about it for a while to come. If Protest the Hero are coming to a city near you, this tour or sometime down the road, do yourself a favour and get your ass to the show. You will not be disappointed, this I know for sure!!!
All Photos © 2018 The Photo Ninja, Instagram @thephotoninja13